Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

The day has disappeared like so many is the last while but I want to catch those I love and wish them a happy, healthy, prosperous new year and though these words are too often used, I wish for all these things in 2010.

Lacking time to think clearly about what the end of this year means and the beginning of another (more on this soon), I steal from other writers:
  • "One resolution I have made, and try always to keep, is this: To rise above the little things."
    - John Burroughs

  • "The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective."
    - G.K. Chesterton

  • "For last year's words belong to last year's language
    And next year's words await another voice.
    And to make an end is to make a beginning."
    - T.S. Eliot, "Little Gidding"

I have been working on a new expanded blog that will appear soon and might have happened before the new year but I am so damn fussy and though Michael worked till four this morning to transfer files and improve the appearance, it'll take another day or two (hopefully not longer) to appear.

Now I will dress up to bring in 2010.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

We had such a lovely Christmas Evening

The Night Before Christmas

By 5 p.m., the Christmas tables are set, mistletoe hung, candles lit, and the only missing ingredient is our middle son and his love.

Rob opens a bottle of bubbly and Gill, Yeliz, he, and I toast the occasion. Alice arrives first with a lush green salad (to be served hot) and a gift of foie gras that she tells us to hide. Bob and Rosemary are next and without a doubt, Rosemary is the belle of the evening in her slinky blouse, Spanish tiara, and elf slippers. She has presents for everyone. She gives us a trio of pates, 2 of her novels - signed, homemade chocolates, a mincemeat pie (that she began 3 months ago), and cheese sticks and curry pastries for appetizers. Ruth comes up the stairs with a rich salmon mousse, surrounded by greens to be served as an entree, and chocolate cake, Francis following with white bowls of spinach, green beans, savoury stuffing, and hot red cabbage, then Adam and his two sons arrive with a leg of lamb and 2 pans of roasted potatoes. (Susan notes that all is delicious - surprisingly everyone can cook.) Gill scurries around the kitchen, re-heating what needs it, and laying out the bounty.

And so we feasted and sipped red wine. After the main course, we all trooped downstairs to hear Ruth on her violin and David on his cello, play 3 German Christmas songs. We all wanted more so Alice, in her high clear voice, sang a couple of rowdy ballads, and then I, who have always been told I can't sing a note, who was the one in the school choir told to mouth the words, cut through my embarrassment and fear and sang a few lines of Christmas carols so Ruth could catch the tune and accompany us.

Later, Adam told Rob that I had a beautiful voice - a stretch, I know. But Alice, in her no-nonsense way, told me that I have an adequate voice, that I can carry a tune. I cannot explain why her comment and not Adam's, filled me with such pleasure. I will not be so fearful next time.

And so this was Christmas.

Friday, December 25, 2009

And so this is Christmas Morn

7 a.m.

A soft rain falls.

I have already been to the Patisserie for pain au raisin and bread and cooked a bread and walnut stuffing for the turkey.

The children (if you can call them that) are still snug in their beds. Gillian is here with her young friend Yeliz - they arrived from Paris two days ago and Brendan flew from Paris yesterday. (We are missing Michael and Mackenzie who promise they will visit soon but alas not for Christmas.)

Last night, we celebrated Christmas Eve with champagne ( really a bubbly from this region - as delicious but not as expensive as bubbly from Champagne) and Gill and Yeliz cooked steak with an extravagant cream sauce, tossed a salad, and baked lemon cookies for dessert. I made the frites and later the popcorn when we moved down to the salon to watch Elf - a silly film but one that I watch every year (as well as A Christmas Carol and The Santa Claus.)

Tonight we will have 15 people for a communal feast. I'm in charge of the turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce, and am looking forward to setting beautiful tables (we will need two) for our multi-cultural group of friends, aged 7 to 83.

I just stepped outside and the sun is shining.

3 p.m.

The turkey is in the oven. The cranberry sauce is made.

The "kids" did not get up until 11:30 and so we ate fresh pineapple and pancakes for lunch and then opened several small presents each. I am content but think it time that I jumped in a shower and dressed for our soiree.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry, merry, happy Christmas

Santa is in Zurich right now. I hope he reaches all of you.

I am at a loss for words but I wish that you all have a lovely Christmas and a happy holiday season.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I'm Never Fully Awake

I fall asleep at 9 and wake up at 1. I go back to bed around 6 and wake around 11. I wouldn't mind so much if I were fully awake and functioning but I feel I'm in a fog. I would like to email my friends and write from the heart but I cannot find the energy. And so I wander, read a little, eat, do laundry and the odd chore. I'd like to go into the forest and find evergreen branches and decorate the mantel for Christmas but again I can't find the energy to go outdoors. And it's cold out there.

I'll recap a little. The time in Toronto with family and friends sped by and I feel quietly content about my visit. I smile when I think of my father in the kitchen, my mother learning to maneuver her new computer, my sister cooking an amazing risotto, going out to dinner with one sniffling courageous friend and her new love, and sitting on the floor with another who has grown more beautiful since I saw her in the spring.

And now I am home. How strange "home" is these days now that we have only one house. And though it sounds exotic living in an ancient village in the south of France where we are in love with the food, wine, and tranquility, we struggle with the differences, especially the language. How strange too that our daughter and eldest son decided to leave Canada for Europe around the same time while our grownup middle child/son moved with his love - a young woman who we think of as a daughter - to Vancouver. We are all in transition.

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do/ with your one wild and precious life" is a question we're all exploring.

In my nuclear family, though often full of good will and laughter, we have the unfortunate habit of dwelling on what's missing or what's wrong with a situation, rather than luxuriating in what's good and wonderful - a human trait, I'm sure but one that we're particularly adept at and one which I'm trying to lose - or lose to some degree because it's next to impossible to get rid of something that's in the blood.

For some reason this reminds me of a film segment called Ole I found on Wenda's blog in which Elizabeth Gilbert discusses her book "Eat, Pray, Love" and how she nurtures the creative process and how frightening it is to have a hugh success (a fluke, she says). We writers have a tendency to wallow in despair - about the quality of our work or the lack of work. How do I stop being anxious that I am not attacking my novel? Gilbert speaks of ancient Greece and Rome where the creative individual was believed to have a guardian, daemon, muse who was as responsible as she for the quality and success of her work.

I would like to be visited by such a daemon but if it/she/he is not a constant presence, the thing to do, Gilbert points out is, is to just show up for your job - out of sheer human stubbornness and love. At the very least, I have written this blog today.

Friday, December 11, 2009

I'm back in France

Time flies. Two days ago I'm in Toronto and there's snow on the ground. (Even though I find it lovely, I am miserable dragging my suitcase through the morning slush, catching a subway train, a Go Train, and finally a very late bus to my sister's house in Brampton, to eventually catch a plane back to the south of France.) The next morning I'm in Paris, repeating under my breath "Paris, je t'aime" though so damn weary I can hardly see straight. Several hours later I catch an one-hour flight to Toulouse.

Rob meets me. The weather is warm. I get rid of my coat and sweater. We drive along the autoroute past fields so green, I cannot believe my eyes. How did I get from Toronto slush to French sunshine? Air France. I used to be thrilled when I could fly this airline but no longer. I've decided to change my blog - soon - and have a separate section where I tell whoever whatever how I really feel about her, him, it and why.

More soon.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Ho Ho Ho

Just caught Santa Claus in downtown Toronto, on television...

The days pass lazily as I enjoy my mother's and father's company. I believe that they are happy to have me with them. My mother hugs me each morning. My father makes me breakfast - usually a boiled egg and toast. He drove me to Peterborough, down country roads, because I mentioned that I'd like to see this city. My mother has taken me to Wall Mart, Costco, Zellars, and the Swiss Chalet - nostalgic outings - a slice of Canadiana.

She manages well with a cane and better with a shopping cart to prop herself. My father needs neither. He is amazingly agile for a man of 87 though I hear him mutter (at least half a dozen times a day) "poor old man".

And so the days have passed. I have spent much of my time setting up my mother's new MacBook - a Christmas gift from my father - and teaching her how to use it. I admit that I sometimes lose patience. "Mum, highlight the message you want to move." "You have asked me five times about your YouTube flick. I told you I'd bookmark it today." My tone is brusque and I apologize. I know what it is like to be told something about a computer program (usually by one of my sons) and not understand a word.

I have downloaded and introduced both my parents to "Skype" and now that my mother has her new computer with a webcam, she can talk and see all her children online.

On Friday, I took a break and went out to lunch with Wanda, a woman I met at one of the French workshops. My mother says that she's very attractive. My father says that she's cheeky. She's both. And I so like her down-to-earth, generous spirit.

On Saturday, my brother and his love Jane came to visit. I adore
my brother. He's a genius (no bias here) and another down-to-earth, generous soul. Before he had even taken off his coat, he asked my Dad about the wood he wanted sawed down for fire wood. My father suggested he just leave the chainsaw and my brother refused. There's no way I'm leaving this for you to kill yourself...

And so my days pass... Later today I will return to my sister's Gael with my mum. Monday and Tuesday I will visit downtown Toronto and share two dinners with two women friends, before flying back to France on Wednesday evening.